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Cast of 'Oz' prepares for opening night at Rend Lake College

  • Pictured are members of the cast and crew of 'The Wizard of Oz.'

    Pictured are members of the cast and crew of 'The Wizard of Oz.'
    Photo provided

Posted on 3/22/2017, 5:00 AM

Rend Lake College is inviting the community to travel down the Yellow Brick Road next month during the 2017 Spring Musical "The Wizard of Oz."
Tickets are on sale now with opening night set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6 at the RLC Theatre.
The musical is an adaptation of the 1939 drama film of the same name produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which is itself based on the 1900 novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum. The plot is based on a young girl named Dorothy who travels from her Kansas farm to the Land of Oz, meeting unique and colorful characters along the way.
Portraying the most notable character, Dorothy Gale, will be theater veteran Olivia Bailey of Mt. Vernon. Bailey, a vocal performance major at RLC, is no stranger to musicals either, having played Anna Maria in last year's "Godspell" and Fantine in 2015's "Les MisÚrables." She said her role this year presents something uniquely challenging compared to her prior roles.
"Dorothy is such a well-known character and I believe people will have high expectations, not only for her, but for any main character in this musical," Bailey said. "I'm hoping to meet those expectations while also adding my own spin on the character. I also love dogs, so I'm extremely excited to be able to hold our Toto throughout this show."
After working hard to be prepared for auditions and landing her dream role, Bailey said she's enjoying her time getting ready for opening night, especially with the younger actors on stage.
"I have loved watching all of our munchkins learn their songs and dances. They are so cute and so talented," Bailey said. "I'm most looking forward to the day when the whole show comes together. We have such a talented and creative cast and crew. Everyone is working hard, and I know all of the hard work we are putting in is going to make a great show."
Joining Bailey on her quest to find Oz will be Dahlgren's Yuting Zhang as Hickory the Tinman. Originally from China, Zhang found his love for theatre and performing several years ago in Southern Illinois and has since appeared in numerous shows, both at RLC and the surrounding area.
The music performance major has performed at RLC as Tally in last year's musical "Godspell," the Bishop in 2015's musical "Les MisÚrables," a blind beggar in 2014's play "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Mr. Mushnik in 2014's musical "Little Shop of Horrors," Cheng I Sao in 2013's play "Treasure Island," and a cave man and fairy godmother in the annual shows of "Flummoxed Fairy Tales."
This time around, Zhang said he's not only looking forward to acting, but also dabbling in dance and choreography.
"I am most excited about choreographing my own tap dance with the help of my fellow cast mate Bryce Wiley [of West Frankfort], who is playing the Scarecrow," Zhang said. "So far, my favorite part has been working with so many talented people and getting to know them, and making new friends."
By his side is another friendly face in Benton's Emeri Farnam. Racking up more than a dozen performances in musicals across Southern Illinois, Farnam will portray Glinda the Good Witch. The sophomore music education major said she's already enjoying a task she's never faced: representing a noble character on stage.
"I am most excited about getting to be an elegant and regal character, which is something I've never played before. Glinda is such a challenge in that aspect, but such a joy to represent," Farnam said. "I actually went into the audition hoping for Dorothy, but now I'm glad that I was cast as Glinda. I get to work with the kids in the show frequently, and I'm challenged to be a character that's drastically different from any I've ever played."
Though she's been on stage several times before, "The Wizard of Oz" will be Farnam's first appearance on the RLC stage. Joining dozens of others in rehearsals, she said the best part has been working with the other talented actors.
"I am loving being a part of this show. The director and stage managers are fantastic at what they do, and I really believe this show will become one to remember," Farnam said. "My favorite part so far has just been making new friendships with people who love performing just as much as I do. I am most looking forward to wearing a lot of glitter."
She continued, "If you love the classic 'The Wizard of Oz,' you'll love this version as well. Because this is the movie version, you'll get to relive the way you felt the first time you watched the movie. This script will make your heart swell just as the movie did, and to be able to feel that same way you once felt or still do feel about the movie is magical. This show is full of amazing talent, and every second is sure to be filled with excitement."
Bailey echoed Farnam's sentiments, saying, "This is such a fun show. It's amazing to see such a classic story move from the big screen to the stage. There is so much talent on stage and behind the scenes for this show. Join us as we travel 'over the rainbow' and show you the magic of Oz."
"It is a classic, it is family-friendly, and it is fun. It's perfect for a family event," Zhang added.
"The Wizard of Oz" will be on the RLC Theatre stage at 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, April 6 to 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9. Tickets are on sale for $12 each. They can be purchased by calling the RLC Box Office at 618-437-5321 ext. 1467. Some tickets may also be available at the door on show night, if not sold out.

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